tv Book Discussion CSPAN October 26, 2014 11:15pm-12:01am EDT
be able to talk to that early the balloons in the sky and 60,000 feet all around the southern and northern hemisphere. and they fear by moving up and down. it's the neatest thing ever. and your question about china. ask the question again. >> is google willing to enter internet censorship into china? actually, no. ' mix of china has the most people in the world. shouldn't most companies are willing to accept any terms to get the market open? [laughter] >> we debated this a long time and we talk about this in the book, which you clearly read -- been actually i haven't read it. i haven't heard of it. >> okay. well here's my coffee. [laughter]
we decided that level of censorship was counter to the principles and we decided that we would not operate in china as long as that was part of the plan. the historic decision that most other companies would not have made. >> oh. [laughter] good answer. [laughter] >> thank you very much. [applause] >> so ladies and gentlemen, that is how google works. it's been an honor. >> so when are you applying to work for ask lex [laughter] >> [inaudible] >> he wants to run for secretary of state. you heard it here first
next on booktv the life and death of the young university roommate a biochemistry student raised in a poor neighborhood in newark new jersey. this program from the book store in brooklyn new york is 45 minutes. >> just graduated with a ba in english language literature from yale in 2002 where he was awarded the willis book for his writing. he spent three years in new york and in tanzania while working with other rainforest conservancy and now lives in la with his wife that grew up right here. much of their families in the audience tonight and we are
honored to host this event here in the neighborhood. his new book the short and tragic life of a brilliant young man who left no mark within the ivy league is the story of the collision of the two worlds. robert was at yale and the experiences were different and under the graduation their lives went in very different directions. an honest rendering of the relationship with a struggling mother and incarcerated father and his teachers and friends at yale, and with his fellow drug dealers the short and tragic life encompasses the most enduring conflicts in america race, class, drugs, community and imprisonment, education, family, friendship and love. fellow author alex writes this book is an absolute triumph of empathy and storytelling. they've accomplished something extraordinary. he made me feel like he is a part of my life as well. trust me on this, the piece is someone you need to get to know.
the story will be shaken. please join me in welcoming jeff. [applause] >> thanks so much for being here in the neighborhood of so many familiar faces. i've been so supportive over the years and it is even nicer to see the strangers who came out of a bookstore on monday night. we live in los angeles and it doesn't have been quite this way on the west coast. i'm curious how many of you are friends with my wife rebecca or sugar margin? raise your hands. okay. thank you all for being such
good friends to people. you know, my dad said after rebecca and i got married before i was part of this family i didn't have a lot of friends and she was absolutely right that i had a few friends and one of them was named rob. his friendship was a gift given like most of the best unsuspectingly by being paired up randomly as roommates freshman year at yale and also being permitted to write the story that his family. in freshman year i was hired as a bouncer at the symphony orchestra that tells you a lot. it was one of the most highly anticipated social events of the year. i was supposed to keep the side
door closed from the inside. he is also intoxicated as people get symphonies c-charlie intent on exiting this way he didn't like being told that he couldn't. he ended up sort of tackling me and we tumbled down the door into this crowded plaza where the kids made some room for us. it was more so until his friends join him. all three of them sort of backed away and turned around and walked off. i think the first guy gave me the finger over his shoulder. now i'm feeling quite a heavy and i turned around with my chest puffed out and that's when
i saw him standing behind me. he had seen but it was about to happen and he came down. robert isn't a fighter but he did know how to fight you could count by the way that he planted his feet but all he had to do was stand up to defend those on his way. i'd only known him for two months at this point. if i had done something besides flail my arms he said you know i've got your back. he had everyone's back. if he hadn't shown up i would have come away with some pride in my career rightfully terminated and i never have since where he grew up he saw a friend and he didn't help.
he knew they could easily end up in a hospital or in jail and in worst case may be in the ground. he could tell you an awful lot about how he grew up outside of new arc a single mother working very hard for not much money mostly in the kitchens and his father incarcerated for double murder. just outside of the front door there is a place where kids have to be on guard all the time and he grew up to be guarded and there was a place where a dangerous few people valued life a lot less than they valued money as a place it was harder to be smart than fatherless
because a lot of people were fatherless and they could really end they cared. not many people cared how smart he was and in fact a number of people. this place where friendship is important, family, it was a place where when he went to burger king with his best friend in high school they called themselves the burger boys. he would grab a dozen or two dozen packets instead of buying himself a burger for lunch. he matriculated at yale the delicate interplay between incredible intelligence and work ethic, sacrifice, luck great teachers and above all being born to a tremendous mother.
if you read this book you will know i was hoping we could get a round of applause for jackie. [applause] that means a lot. i spent the day with her on thursday. i was with colleagues telling her how it matters and have been put in the part of the story is and how much she can teach people. later when she dropped me off at the train station i said you know the one thing i hear from every single reader is how much you can teach people and what an inspiration you are and you will help people become better on mothers.
they were not apparent in i don't think hiding them actively out of pride and certainly not embarrassment i just think that she didn't see any need to qualify the present. as some sort of triumph against the odds. he was in a student at biochemistry which isn't as easy as it sounds we bonded over me being the white guy that ran for the track team and he was a black guy from the hood as he called it. he was the captain of the team
for two years and the initiation from him singing madonna express yourself. [laughter] i wasn't there but i heard he gave it his all. he was picked for one of those secret societies. he had tattoos and cornrows and it's interesting a number of reviewers extracted those two details to suggest that he was alienating himself on purpose but i think of his tattoos on his arm at and his best friend from childhood drawing that for fun and a fourth of july barbecue this summer before they parted ways for college. i think they would come spend
three hours with a musical chatter coming from his room throughout. he sold drugs to college. marijuana, quite a bit of it. but he never seemed to spend any money. and it was easy to assume he was saving up for graduate school were just building a safety net that he never had before and that this is practical and was practically and well-intentioned and something that he knew how to do. because this was a college dorm it was safe. whenever he hung up the phone with his mother he said you are my heart. i think we all know a person at some time or a person who is magnetic and bright and hilarious, a person that is just
going to succeed. that isn't to say that he didn't struggle. he struggled particularly in the entitlement inherent to replace like yale. he was in the dining hall ones and three guys from the team come and it sounds like i'm picking on them, sure. it's a vast majority of wonderful people but this is how it happens. ..
with that it was pretty cool said the only dance moved that i have. [laughter] later he gave me an envelope with a $50 bill and i watched him walk down southport ave and rebecca and i moved to california. we talk the way guys talk but the wedding is the last time i ever saw him alive i was at his funeral with all those pleasant memories and what happened to those six years since the wedding or
nine years since we graduated college or what happened in the first 18 years or the four years that i lived with them there is a gathering of over 400 people outside the church those to condemn him as a street thug. and i knew he was not a thug whatever the answer was to eliminate with the sensational murder aspect and it had to be more profound to go back into the
past that had to be more complex than that. with that contradictory explanations you just want to go to grad school and be a teacher and then open up its own pharmacy. it was almost a refrain during this time. this was a terrible mystery and a lot of people got to know and i do know now. to spend three years sitting in the kitchen of about 100 people to hear the stories
and i learned throughout the journey i a also learned about this country's cities and challenges end access and entitlement and identity and the hours that shape it. when i was led down 18 year-old not that i am smart 34 year-old now but i was a dumb 18 year-old going to college i considered myself savvy with urban black culture to spend a lot of my time listening to music but i was not savvy and i am not now. and i've learned a lot with personal authenticity and it
there is. there is also olav a -- a lot of bad luck that is a troubling thing we all have bad luck and have bad decisions and certainly have made some bad decisions. most of mine were insignificant but under the circumstances but those were life tending. this is not and did to justify those -- meant to justify but to come back from wherever he is from that symphony concert he was capable of a lot more damage and never used any of those hardships with anything he
said or did and did not want anyone else to either. it is just an honest account of a dignified and remarkable life from the sad and confounding story about love not just the standard associations but also the aspect to confront what a long rap your head around of the work to logic and the invisible burgeons that it does generate. a young graduate and also a drug dealer a teacher and coach a scientist and a traveler. he liked to hang out and
hear stories and a laugh and his high-pitched laugh was joyful he just aspired to steer clear and for peace been mired in the most financially based occupation there is in a shot in the basement by a man in the ski mask from his high-school friends he would tutors seven math and high school and english his mother jackie and i cannot say enough for about occurred integrity she told me her one consolation is she knew that he influenced a lot of
>> i was back home having trouble getting inside of my head and to be in a ride to love was supposed to be writing other things and reaching out to friends and again the question is a dimension to so what happened than one conversation in particular that lasted eight hours and generated more questions with a collective not just my own but to spend three years doing it their support behind that especially when i would sit down with jackie to set wanted to write a story about his life there was hardly any possibility anyone would want to publish
it may be there were papers in the attic of some type of record. >>. >> that is a good question. >> it is surprising you have to earn the trust of the people in this community. it is hard to ask for stories but a clear commonality that people tended to be very open and in fact, the professors at yale were better with the -- than some of the drug dealers spent time with.
>> i spent some time with him. >> the front-page review of "the new york times" that says these are two different people the drug dealer and the hard-working intellectual whole way that would buy him one in cyclopedia at a time to go to yale. except it was one person and also you have a web site of your own. >> is there is anything about the murder of the trial or where it is?
>> you answer the first one this statement said that robbed peace was to people simplifies to makes it digestible and it is valid but i can assure you he was one person and his duality is the messiness to package conflicting values this is a lot more complicated with more gray areas there is a lot of players in between and that is where robb spent most of his time. the second question? can you remind me. >> the life of robert peace
is a work in progress no real investigation no one arrested were no suspects i didn't go down very far with research and certainly came across a lot of theories from a lot of different areas to talk about messiness but thank you that is important is. >> but even in the first three chapters there is a lot of excerpts with alex handling with you laying this out on a table in front
of you in how you managed to shape the book? >> i mainly did it chronologically. once that decision was made the harder thing was you do this from memory and memory is callable you get versions of the same time period i would talk to so and so and call him gem and he would say you were you talking to next? i would say cady you come back and tell me what she said alitalia if it is right that is a tremendous amount of hours on the phone. to the extent that the memory can be checked.
whose lives suits came together. it is everybody but also of thee country. so for them to take kindly to that. >> one of the most powerful things i learned early on is the degree starting at age seven as often as he could what they talked about will never be known that what is important when you think of prison and i learned family
>> he said there was no arrest. but for those that were empoverish if it is a cold case for the subject du know anything with the cold case? >> i am not aware of any precedent. not that there isn't one but i have not heard anything from the newark police department i spent some time there researching but to talk about guarded, the
little more insight. >> it helps you to understand how this billion young man with such a bright future and reeducation could turn to drugs and leaves up reach -- "the reader" ultimately to understand. >> i am not sure if i completely understand but i definitely have a greater understanding i am global gold here i was in the same with him and kiss her happy
talking and talking in the room. with what happens after college but with those factors within the family and those that contributed. there is the greater pattern and they are striving for this greatest goal and the one thing needed to achieve that goal well sort of looking at the horizon with those decisions that you are making.
>> is there anything you left out that you wish you had included now? >> there are people that came up to me whether out of grief for they did not trust my intention or any other reasons. since the book has come out some have contacted me. and learning what they had to contribute with so much depth they could have given to the book.
>> speesix. >> that is a good question. >> that is easily overcome and most places from that experience into the neighborhood where people knew him a whole lot better which they did people let yale knew him better in certain ways. i don't know if it was negative but cautious reserve to be vulnerable. >>.